This chickpea salad has a royal backstory that doesn’t involve chickpeas

Joe Yonan

THE WASHINGTON POST – I wasn’t around for the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II; I wouldn’t be born for a dozen years. Even if I had been, I doubt coronation chicken – so named because it was created for the occasion – would’ve been on my family’s menu the way it was across the pond, where it became Britain’s first “TV dinner” for those watching the ceremony on the small screen, according to historian Joe Moran.

Culinarily, culturally and geographically, West Texas is about as far from Buckingham Palace as any place I can imagine.

Still, I have had my share of curried chicken salad over the years, and I get the appeal – warming spice, neutral protein, touches of tartness and crunch. As a vegetarian, I was hopeful when I saw Charlie Watson’s recipe for a chickpea version of the dish in her book Cook, Eat, Run. She’s a British marathoner and dietitian, and her recipe seems more inspired by modern interpretations of coronation chicken, using mango chutney, dried apricots, almonds and celery in addition to the requisite curry.

It’s simple to put together, mostly because the protein comes from a can, with no poaching or roasting required. Indian curry paste offers a more complex backdrop of spices than a powder, and Greek yoghurt lightens up the mayo-based dressing.

As a dietitian, Watson – perhaps not surprisingly – lists her top serving suggestion for the chickpeas as atop salad greens, and the photograph in her book shows them on small baked potatoes.

Coronation Chickpea Salad. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

I support those ideas, but there’s also nothing wrong with eating this as a sandwich, perhaps while watching the next-best thing to a coronation: Netflix’s The Crown.


15 minutes

Six servings

This version of a British dish created in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation lunch swaps in chickpeas for the chicken and uses mango chutney, dried apricots and celery for crunch. Serve with salad greens, as a wrap/sandwich filling or as a topping for baked potatoes.


Two tablespoons mild Indian curry paste

Three-and-a-half cups cooked or canned no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Two tablespoons mayonnaise

Three tablespoons full-fat

Greek yoghurt

Two tablespoons mango chutney

Two stalks celery, finely chopped

One third cup dried apricots, finely chopped

Three-quarter cup slivered almonds, toasted if desired

Quarter cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more whole leaves for optional garnish

Half teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

Quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed


In a large skillet over medium heat, add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until aromatic, for one minute.

Stir in the chickpeas until well-coated, then remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Stir in the mayonnaise, yogurt, chutney, celery, apricots, almonds, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper until combined. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Nutrition | Calories: 352; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 3mg; Sodium: 716mg; Carbohydrates: 44g; Dietary Fibre: 9g; Sugars: 8g; Protein: 12g.